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Seasoning and Caring for cast iron cookware

Caring for cast iron cookware

Cast iron is wonderful to cook with, providing a very even heat throughout the cooking surface. When kept properly seasoned, it will last a life-time. I still use my grandmother's cast iron skillets on a regular basis and they must be around 80 years old.


New Pans

Heat the oven to 250º - 300º. Coat the pan with lard or bacon grease. Don't use a liquid vegetable oil because it will leave a sticky surface and the pan will not be properly seasoned. Put the pan in the oven. In 15 minutes, remove the pan and pour out any excess grease. Place the pan back in the oven and bake for 2 hours. Repeating this process several times is recommended as it will help create a stronger "seasoning" bond. Also, when you put the pan into service, it is recommended to use it initially for foods high in fat, such as bacon or foods cooked with fat, because the grease from these foods will help strengthen the seasoning.

Pans Needing Re-seasoning

If the pan was not seasoned properly or a portion of the seasoning wore off and food sticks to the surface or there is rust, then it should be properly cleaned and re-seasoned. Remove any food residue by cleaning the pan thoroughly with hot water and a scouring pad. Heating the pan first to a temperature that is still safe to touch helps open the pores of the metal and makes it easier to clean. Dry the pan immediately with dish towel or paper towel. Season the pan as outlined above.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Clean the cookware while it is still hot by rinsing with hot water and scraping when necessary. Do not use a scouring pad or soap (detergent) as they will break down the pan's seasoning. If frying bacon and such leaves a residue, turn off the heat but leave the pan on the hot burner for 10 minutes or so, then scrape with a metal spatula. It cleans easily that way. And just wipe out the grease and rinse easily with hot water. Dry immediately, and if you have a little of that bacon grease on a paper towel (from draining the bacon), now is a good time to wipe down the skillet with it before storing. Never store food in the cast iron pan as the acid in the food will breakdown the seasoning and the food will take on a metallic flavor. Store your cast iron cookware with the lids off, especially in humid weather, because if covered, moisture can build up and cause rust. Should rust appear, the pan should be re-seasoned. When you purchase cast iron cookware, they are medium gray in color, but after usage, they start turning darker. (My pans are very black in color.) This is normal and should be expected.



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